WIMBLEDON, England – Even though she is short on matches this year, Serena Williams is still big on grass.
The seven-time Wimbledon champion reached the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the 14th time, beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2 on Monday.
Williams, who missed about a year of play while she had a baby in 2017 but returned to the tennis tour in 2018, before Wimbledon had not played since the third round of the French Open – skipping the grass-court warm-up tournaments.
“I definitely haven’t had enough (matches),” said Williams, who had been dealing with an injured left knee. “I have more matches this week than literally the past five months. So, yikes.”
Williams reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, then retired from a match at Indian Wells, withdrew from matches in Miami and Rome, and then played at the French Open.
“I know that I can play, and now that I’m feeling better physically I almost feel a relief more than anything,” Williams said. “Like, OK, finally I can play tennis.”
Against Suarez Navarro, Williams won six straight games from 3-2 in the first set and broke for a 5-2 lead in the second. She easily closed it out from there.
Williams, who lost to Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final, will next face Alison Riske, an unseeded American who upset top-ranked Ash Barty.
Williams’ last loss was also against American opposition, Sofia Kenin in the third round at Roland Garros.
“Well the last time I faced a fellow American I lost, so I definitely want to do well this time,” Williams said. “And yeah, she’s great on the grass. She took out the No. 1 player in the world who just won a grass-court tournament. I watched that match, so I’ll be ready for her.”
Riske ended Barty’s 15-match winning streak, and her chances of winning a second straight Glam Slam title.
Riske beat the French Open champion 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and will play in the quarterfinals of a major tournament for the first time.
“I haven’t been starting out fantastic in all my matches, but I knew I had the confidence that if I could manage my service games I was going to get looks on her serve,” said Riske, whose best previous showing was reaching the third round at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the 2013 U.S. Open. “I had to play aggressive. I had to take it to Ash.”
Barty was playing her first tournament as the No. 1-ranked player, and she started off by winning points with her serve against Riske.
In the opening service game, the top-seeded Barty won all four points with aces. She won two more points in her next game with aces, as well. She finished the match with 12 of them.
But Riske took her chances when she got them, breaking Barty four times on four attempts, including to take a 5-3 lead in the deciding set before serving it out.
“I was sticking to how I wanted to play,” Barty said. “Then in the second set, I think my serve let me down. I let Alison get back into the match too many times, having looks at second serves.”
Also, No. 8 Elina Svitolina beat No. 24 Petra Martic 6-4, 6-2, Zhang Shuai defeated Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, and Barbora Strycova came from a set and break down to beat Elise Mertens 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Svitolina won six straight games from 4-4 in the first set. Martic called for medical treatment on her left leg after the first game of the second set and her movement appeared to be hampered the rest of the way. She asked for treatment again at 4-1.
In the men’s draw, two-time champion Rafael Nadal beat Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, and Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Benoit Paire 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.
Later on “Manic Monday,” 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were on the schedule as Wimbledon resumes after its traditional day off.
Gauff will try to prolong her magical Grand Slam debut when she meets former No. 1 Simona Halep.